(Pencilstorm disclaimer/editor’s note: It’s not exactly a state secret that Ricki C. is not a big fan of the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame in general or of Rolling Stone’s Jann Wenner in particular. As such, the following blog is not intended for the easily-offended or the politically-correct.)
“Ted Feigan’s idea of a producer was a guy who’d come to his house, have impeccable table manners, sit there and be respected by all his friends from the 50’s, and be loved by the brass at Columbia, so that if the act failed, it would be on such a high level it wouldn’t make any difference because all the players on the team were stars.” - Kim Fowley, in 1974, on Columbia Records’ choice for a producer for The Hollywood Stars, Fowley’s then-current hustle, immediately prior to The Runaways, his next hustle after that.
I’m always reminded of the Kim Fowley quote above whenever the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame nominations are announced every year. Now Fowley may have been a lot of things – scumbag/miscreant/lech, among others – but he was also one of the five most astute observers of the machinations of the rock & roll industry I have ever read. I also firmly believe that if you substitute Rolling Stone publisher/Rock & Roll Hall of Fame bigshot Jann Wenner for the above-named Columbia A&R man Ted Feigan you pretty much get the same picture. Jann Wenner has always been a starfucker of major proportions. (A joke that made the rounds of my reprobate 1970’s rocker friends: Q.) “Would Jann Wenner suck Mick Jagger’s dick if it would get him a dinner invitation to Mick & Bianca’s New York apartment?” A.) “Yes, if it wouldn’t muss Jann’s shirt.”) I firmly believe that if Wenner could have gotten away with not inducting anybody into the Hall of Fame after he got below the A-list likes of Crosby, Stills, Nash & Young and Billy Joel, he absolutely would have stopped the nomination process, but now he’s stuck: SOMEBODY’S gotta pay the AEP bill to keep the lights on in Cleveland, and those induction ceremony concerts bring in beaucoup bucks, Jack.
But I digress, on with my rundown (literally & figuratively) of this year’s nominees:
CHEAP TRICK – Okay, longtime readers of Pencilstorm are obviously aware of our affection and our support for Cheap Trick, so I’m gonna leave that topic to Colin (founder & lead singer of a band named Why Isn’t Cheap Trick In The Rock & Roll Hall Of Fame, for Chrissakes) for a separate blog entry. My two cents? Induct these Rockford, Illinois rockers, NOW, if not sooner.
CHICAGO – Jeeez, these guys are Hackmeisters of the Highest Order, and we should be spending our time making sure they gets floated out on the Japanese current rather than being nominated for the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame. ANY band containing ANY member (this means YOU, Peter Cetera) that participates in a Columbus Symphony Picnic With the Pops Concert should NOT be considered for the R&RHoF.
DEEP PURPLE – Deep Purple, really? If we’re gonna start nominating middling late 60’s-early 70’s English hard-rock bands, where are the nominations for the likes of Savoy Brown, Wishbone Ash or Blodwyn Pig? For that matter, where are the nominations for middling AMERICAN late 60’s/early ‘70’s bands like Steppenwolf, Spirit or Blood, Sweat & Tears? (I guess this is as good a time as any to insert my yearly “Why Aren’t Mott The Hoople In The Rock & Roll of Fame?” query into the proceedings. Hoople leader Ian Hunter DID write “Cleveland Rocks” in the course of his solo career, ladies & gentlemen.)
YES – Okay, I’ll kinda give you Yes. When I first met my good friend & decade-of-the-2000’s-employer Hamell On Trial and we started discussing our Rock & Roll History on long, middle-of-the-night car rides around the U.S.A., we concurred that we both loved the Fragile-era Yes for about 20 minutes in 1972, because they were just SO FUCKING DAZZLINGLY GOOD at their instruments. Then they went completely off-the-rails with that Tales Of Topographic Oceans crap and we realized that not only was there no heart beneath those heads, there was no genitalia either, at which point I made a hard left turn over to Aerosmith. (And it’s not necessarily Yes’ fault that they spawned the likes of Styx, Kansas, Journey, Foreigner, Marillion, et. al., but they do bear SOME responsibility)
JANET JACKSON, CHIC, NWA, The J.B.’S, THE SPINNERS, CHAKA KHAN – Before accusations of racism are aimed my way, let me say this, there are many, many African-American performers who belong in the Rock & Hall of fame: Chuck Berry (without whom rock & roll would not even EXIST, and who was subsequently jailed for his troubles), Jimi Hendrix, The Chambers Brothers, Arthur Lee & John Echols of 1960’s L.A. mainstays Love (who were a HUGE influence on Jim Morrison and his buddies The Doors), Living Color, etc. That being said, all of the nominees detailed above belong in a R&B Hall of Fame, which should probably be established in Memphis, where – let’s face facts – The Rock & Roll Hall of Fame SHOULD HAVE BEEN located. Come on, Alan Freed had a radio show nobody really listened to or cared about in Cleveland and our North Coast brethren get the Hall of Fame? Get serious. That’s not a musical or artistic decision, that’s just politics-as-usual and tax breaks for the already-wealthy.
(Actually, while I'm thinkin' about it, since Bruce Springsteen's E Street Band got inducted on their own in 2014, maybe James Brown's fine, fine, super-fine backing band, the always crack, right-on-the-money J.B.'s should be inducted in their own right this year. That's another group of musicians that made an already great frontman into a genius of the live stage.) (And that guy who brought all the capes out to drape over James' shoulders and guide him wearily off the stage at the denoument of "Please, Please, Please" should be the first ROADIE inducted into the Hall of Fame.)
NINE INCH NAILS – Wait, Trent Reznor wants to fuck me like an animal? I want him fucked out of the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame.
STEVE MILLER – see above, Chicago, Hackmeisters of the Highest Order. How did Steve Miller, the Eagles and Elton John become the anointed Holy Trinity of Classic Rock and Oldies radio? Absolutely my favorite radio listening experience in Columbus is 9 am-noon Sundays on 93.3, when they replay old Casey Kasem Top 40 Countdown shows from the 70’s in their entirety. I love those shows for a number of reasons: 1) Because there are songs down there between 30 & 40 in the countdown that you have either NOT HEARD since the 1970’s, or HAVE NEVER HEARD AT ALL. 2) Casey’s truly fucking CLUELESS on-air banter and (largely) bullshit showbiz stories. (Plus I ace every one of his trivia contests.) 3) If for nothing else, the Kasem show provides PERSPECTIVE for what were hits and what weren’t. Example: “You Ain’t Seen Nothin’ yet” by Bachman Turner Overdrive (or Bachman Turner Overweight, as my 70’s West Side compadres pegged them) PEAKED at number 26 or so. If all you had to go on was Classic Rock Radio, you would have to assume that tune was Number One for like nine weeks in a row.
LOS LOBOS – Actually I kinda love Los Lobos, so have at it, Rock & Roll Hall of Fame, induct Hidalgo and Rosas & friends sooner than later.
THE CARS – The Cars first two albums are probably two of my favorite records of the late-70’s and I loved those guys beyond comprehension in 1978 when they first burst on the scene out of Boston: I loved the tunes, I loved their attitude, I loved their dress sense (fuck yeah, I was a skinny-tie boy back in the day), I loved their Whole Deal. So yeah, induct away. (By the early 1980’s, things were not going nearly so well with me and my New Wave Beantown Boyz: check out Fighting With Ric Ocasek in my old blog.)
THE SMITHS – Take everything I just said about The Cars and reverse it: I didn’t like The Smiths tunes, I didn’t like their attitude, I didn’t like their dress sense, I kinda didn’t like their Whole Deal. They were whiny, gloomy, dreary and generally English in all the wrong ways. (In that respect, The Smiths were the anti-Kinks.) And come on, The Smiths get nominated to the Rock & Hall of Fame BEFORE Detroit’s favorite sons, The MC5? That’s just misdirected rock & roll Anglophilia of the Worst Kind. The hell with Morrissey & Marr, gimme Tyner & Smith any day of any week. – Ricki C. / 10/10/2015.